Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Sunflower Farm CSA is really humming along. Last week was # 11 and the workload is finally manageable.
The boxes are getting heavier and the feedback continues to be positive. We are switching from ‘lighter’ stuff like lettuce and spinach to more fall stuff like carrots, potatoes, onions, summer squash (zucchini), corn and melons.
We had a brief reprieve from the drought with a bit of rain, but certainly not as much as we needed. Now we are being more targeted in our watering so it’s not as intensive as it was in July. July really is crunch month for a garden. Basically everything is in the ground and screaming for heat and sunlight and water. Nature provided us with lots of heat and sun this July, just no water.
So now with more time for other tasks I’ve been busy taking out pea fencing, rototilling areas that are finished and basically trying to clean up what I can. The weeds are still winning the war and I hate to admit that often at this time of year my resolve to eliminate every weed, or even the bulk of them is radically diminished.
We learned a lot this year about how much to plant and have ended up with a few excesses and a few deficits. The main deficit is with our brassicas but this was less of an issue of planting too few but more of an issue of planting too late and the plants being adversely affected by the heat and drought. Broccoli and cauliflower like cool weather. Some years we have had a great harvest by now, but this year many of our brassica plants did not form any heads. We have lots more planted and so are hoping that cooler weather will help the next crop do better.
We’re also getting smarter in terms of harvesting. We’re doing some of it on Wednesday for our Thursday delivery. Digging potatoes and picking tomatoes the day before has taken some of the pressure off on Thursday morning. This gives me more time for things like harvesting corn, which I always find time consuming. I’ve been growing corn for 20 years but I still waffle about when ears are ready. Luckily with the amount I have to pick each week the decision is easier.
The first week that we provided corn it was our “Spring Treat” cultivar and it was a huge hit. The second week I was still harvesting the first planting so the corn was more mature. Some people liked this, but most of our members didn’t. The third week for corn, which was last week, was Spring Treat again but it was a second planting so the kernels were small and tender again, so I redeemed myself. I also had some “Jackpot” for our full share members, which is a new cultivar this year and we really like it.
On Thursday mornings we spread out all that we’ve harvested, ready to pack it into each member’s box. It’s quite a blast to see just how much food we can produce on our acre, week after week.
Wow, the July drought is three weeks behind us and already I’m starting to sound like I’m enjoying the garden again. Humans can be so resilient!
Cam Mather is the author of "The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook." For more information about Cam Mather or his books, please visit www.cammather.com